Two weeks in Vietnam

Two weeks in Vietnam

Travelling through Vietnam from top to tail -- Hanoi to Saigon or the reverse, is by far the most common way first time travellers and backpackers approach the country. Long and thin, Vietnam is well suited to a trip like this -- just don't forget just how long it really is!

On this page

Starting in the capital Hanoi, you head out first to Ha Long Bay before heading south, hitting pretty much all the tourist highlights of Vietnam -- Hue and the DMZ, Hoi An, Nha Trang and Mui Ne before finishing it off in Saigon.

You can do this trip in either direction, and with Vietnam's international border crossings with Cambodia, Laos and China, it is easy to blend this into more extended trips.

Suggest trip length

The suggested minimum time for a trip like this is ten days to two weeks, though three to four weeks will be a far more comfortable pace. Vietnam is a bigger country than you may think, and the land transportation can be very slow.

Sample plan

1) Hanoi -> Ha Long Bay (stunning scenery)
2) Hanoi -> Hue (Imperial capital, temples, trips to DMZ)
3) Hue -> Hoi An (riverside town, shopping, tailoring, )
4) Hoi An -> Nha Trang (Beaches, boat trips)
5) Nha Trang -> Mui Ne (beaches, sand dunes)
6) Mui Ne -> Ho Chi Minh City (museums, nightlife, day-trips)

Save some time

One day: Fly domestically from Hanoi to Hue
Two days: Skip Halong Bay (not recommended)

Take a side trip

Two days: head south from Ho Chi Minh City to explore the Mekong Delta from Can Tho.
Three days: head north from Hanoi to the mountain town of Sapa.

Combine trip plans

This trip links in easily with the Cambodia one month adventure.

Sample Trip Times (in hours)

To help you work out how you'll get around, we've listed the trip durations for the various forms of transport available. Note that with the exception of flight times, these are average trip times, so no hate mail if you take the slow train.

VIETNAM: Top to tail
Hanoi Ha Long Bay - - 3:00 -
Hanoi Hue 1:10 14:00 13:00 -
Hue Hoi An - 4:00 2:30 (Da Nang) -
Hoi An Nha Trang - 10:00 9:00 (Da Nang) -
Nha Trang Mui Ne - 7:00 7:00 (Ma Lam) -
Mui Ne Saigon - 4:00 - -
Saigon Can Tho - 3:00 - -

Reviewed by

Stuart McDonald co-founded with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

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More itineraries

Where to go, how long to stay there, where to go next, east or west, north or south? How long have you got? How long do you need? Itinerary planning can be almost as maddening as it is fun and here are some outlines to help you get started. Remember, don't over plan!


Burma lends itself to a short fast trip with frequent flights thrown in or a longer, slower trip where you don't leave the ground. There isn't much of a middle ground. Ground transport remains relatively slow, so be wary about trying to fit too much in.


Roughly apple-shaped, you'd think Cambodia would be ideal for circular routes, but the road network isn't really laid out that way. This means you'll most likely find yourself through some towns more than once, so work them into your plans.


North or south or both? Laos is relatively small and transport is getting better and better. Those visiting multiple countries can pass through here a few times making for some interesting trips.


The peninsula is easy, with affordable buses, trains and planes and relatively short distances. Sabah and Sarawak are also relatively easy to get around.The vast majority of visitors stick to the peninsula but Borneo is well worth the time and money to reach.


Long and thin, Vietnam looks straightforward, but the going is slow and the distances getting from A to B can really bite into a tight trip plan. If you're not on an open-ended trip, plan carefully.

The region

This is where itinerary planning really becomes fun. Be sure to check up on our visa, border crossing and visa sections to make sure you're not trying to do the impossible. Also, remember you're planning a holiday -- not a military expedition.